Ground Station & Amateur Radio
The ground station at the University of Nottingham.
UoN has invested in a professional satellite ground station that was assembled by students over Summer 2021 and is now installed on the roof of the Coates building at University Park. The Alen Space ground station kit features VHF, UHF and S-band antennas, along with motors and tracking software that enable it to follow satellites across the sky – including our own UoN CubeSats.
Data can be downloaded from passing satellites that we have access to the communications protocol for, and commands can be uploaded in real-time to tell our satellites to take pictures, perform experiments, rotate in a specific way and many other functions. Students and staff from UoN have received training and certification to be able to operate the radios by the Radio Society of Great Britain
One advantage of UoN owning and operating its own ground station (rather than rent the service) is that we can be involved in an international network of cooperative ground stations that can provide a better coverage of satellites on their orbital path across the globe. By sharing opportunities to downlink data and upload telecommands to missions owned by different Universities with ground stations, UoN becomes part of the mutually beneficial team that works together to support their missions worldwide.
Following our collaboration with Universidade de Brasilia on WormSail, both universities agreed to install networked ground station at their campuses. So UnB now also have a ground station that uses the same frequency bands - meaning we can share communications duties of our satellites as they pass over the Earth
As part of the ground station installation, students from UoN were invited to receive training and legal qualification from South Notts Amateur Radio Club (SNARC). This extra training has not only complimented their studies on radio and electronics technology, but helped them pass their Radio Society of Great Britain exams so we can legally operate the ground station.